In the often painfully underrated science fiction/Star Trek parody, Galaxy Quest, there was an alien artifact called the Omega 13. It was a matter re-arranger capable of creating a 13-second jump back in time. It’s not enough time to travel anywhere like a Tardis. It’s just enough to quickly fix one mistake like a panic button failsafe. In this week’s spectacular climax to the Flash/Arrow crossover event, we see the team making such a mistake. It may not be a big button but fortunatel,y the team does have its own red streaking failsafe, but will the second time be a charm for the team or just an encore performance?
Legends of Yesterday – Vandal Savage gives the extended team 24 hours to hand over Carter and Kendra or he’ll destroy both Central and Star Cities. Using Kendra’s visions of the past, they form a desperate plan to take him down. Meanwhile, Oliver grapples with discovering that he has a son: William Clayton.
First things first, if you haven’t watched the Flash counterpart episode, Legends of Today, do so before watching this episode of Arrow. In a lot of ways, the shows have crossed over in the past , and this is dependent on the prior events of the other show. So even if you’re still an old school Arrow fan that hasn’t yet adopted the scarlet speedster, check that episode out for the purpose of continuity (it’s as much an Arrow episode as it is a Flash). With that said, there’s a hell of a lot to enjoy in continuation of the Hawkman/Hawkgirl introduction storyline. As the title suggests, there is some looking back via flashbacks to their Egyptian first lives that visually feel like a cross between 300 and The Mummy. They’re a very entertaining side note, and the duo, along with Vandal Savage, look great in their very old school costumes. Despite the origins meshing of this trio implied in the last episode, the Hawkman/Hawkgirl aspect of it becomes quite faithful to the comics with Savage taking the place of the Hath-Set character as their initial killer. Yet the meteorite aspect also keeps Savages comic origin in some connection. This also leads to the discovery of “Nth metal” (of course Cisco named it) within the Flarrowverse which could easily become established as its Adamantium or Vibranium equivalent. Speaking of Marvel equivalents, the episode makes possibly their best ever Marvel wink as the team arrive at their farmhouse hideout and Thea puts in a playful Age of Ultron jab, “Bunch of superheroes in a farmhouse.... feel like I’ve seen that in a movie before”. It’s also worth noting on the team Hawk front about the 1975 video recording of the St. Rocks University professor. That place and time is featured heavily in the recent Legends of Tomorrow trailer and most likely the destination of show’s pilot episode.
The main Vandal Savage story is a classic second part offering of delivering the big action section of the whole, and it does not disappoint as the team goes in for a Savage beat down. It really gives the feeling of a comic book battle as their extended ranks take on a single target and the fights themselves really impress being fast, flowing and toting some cool power moves. This even turns into a two for one offering thanks to the surprise of Barry’s time travel capabilities (and on an Arrow episode no less). This is not a spoiler as from mere moments into the first fight, it becomes unmistakably obvious that a reset button will be hit and director Thor Freudenthal (still the coolest name on or off screen!) is fully aware of that. Instead. he focuses on maximizing the fulfilment of such a scenario and piling in the character deaths that we would not see under any other circumstances. What’s more, the sequence of Barry fleeing the fight and race up to his equivalent of 88 MPH is genuinely thrilling, from Oliver’s Harrison Well’s echoing “Run Barry run” the shots of Barry desperately trying to avoid the expanding blast to giving the team their much needed continue. It takes for granted that viewers are up on their Flash time travel lore so Arrow=only fans will be left with a few questions, but in general, the episode fairs much better for not getting bogged down in the timey whimey (whose complications Cisco nicely explains) so that it doesn’t dominate the episode. The continued presence of Merlyn also works in the episode’s favour as he becomes a unlikely diplomat. Along with the Flash part one, these have been John Barrowman’s best moments this season. This is especially true when he’s threatening Oliver over Thea’s fate as it really brings the villain in him back to the surface, which is we want from his character again (yes he wants to be a good father but still let him evil!). As for his concluding moments, they have the potential to become something quite awesome, especially in his choice words that contradict much of previous pledges to Barry and Oliver.
Oliver’s unexpected father’s day story had the potential to drag the episode into overly sappy drama territory but thankfully it doesn’t. Instead, we see it utilized as a mental distraction for Oliver’s character with notable impact. Oliver’s reaction to such a life-changing event feels very human, especially with regards to the price of secrecy and its consequences. The showrunners have openly stated that this 9-year-old son is not Connor Hawk, Oliver’s son in the comics who eventually takes over the Green Arrow mantle. This is most likely because we will see some form of Connor Hawk in Legends of Tomorrow, when the team travels to the future. For now though, the end results of Oliver becoming at least some part of William’s life feel very rewarding. The kid gets epic bonus points for all his Flash merchandise (feeling perfectly natural for a kid growing up with a local superhero). We now desperately need a scene of Captain Cold discovering he’s got his own action figure.
In hindsight, over both episodes this is less of the Legend of Tomorrow episode zero than expected and still feels like episodes of the existing shows with the added characters as guest stars. It’s epic and it’s fun with big plot developments and even a much needed Robin Hood joke about Oliver.